John Boyega's role as Finn in the new Star Wars films catapulted him to international stardom. But before 2015's The Force Awakens, genre fans knew Boyega was the real deal from an indie science fiction movie released years earlier. And right now, you can watch that movie for free.
Following his impassioned speech that "Black lives have always mattered" at Wednesday protests in London's Hyde Park, social media is revisiting Boyega and his role in the socially conscious genre bender Attack the Block. Way before Finn led the Resistance against the First Order, Moses led his bruvs against an alien invasion threatening his public housing home in South London.
Besides being a kinetic action horror comedy in the spirit of Shaun of the Dead (whose director Edgar Wright was a producer on Attack the Block), the film frames Boyega in a more appropriate revolutionary figure that Finn, quite literally a cop that turned against the system that stripped him of his identity, ultimately never became. The best part? It's free to watch right now.
How to watch Attack the Block, for free
But to watch it for free, you can watch Attack the Block on Pluto TV, a free ad-supported service. There's also other stuff that science fiction and superhero fans offered on Pluto TV you might want to check out.
Why you need to watch Attack the Block
At its core, Attack the Block from director Joe Cornish is simply a great movie. Strip away its most distinct characteristics and themes relevant to working class London, and what you have is an unbelievably arresting action romp about growing up.
While it has the guise of an underdog movie whose under-equipped heroes step up against a powerful force — think Seven Samurai, Red Dawn, Cloverfield, and Super 8 — Attack the Block has the beating heart of a coming of age movie. It is a movie about boyhood, and the extraordinary forces that happen when a boy grows up.
But Attack the Block is aces because of its unique time, place, and universe of characters. It's unabashedly and irrecoverably a movie about inner London; though it's got aliens running amok, it's the invisible economic forces that have actually boxed in the city's diverse poor to live in such a centralized space. The aliens are just the finger that topple the dominoes.
The film's central adventuring party, led by John Boyega as the aptly-named Moses, are all rambunctious adolescents are both complex yet uncomplicated. They are just as willing to mug a nurse (Jodie Whitaker, in a central role) as they are to kiss mum before fighting aliens. Their arsenal to defend Earth are all relics you'd find in a troublemaker's bedroom: Baseball bats, firecrackers, and samurai swords bought at a Chinatown festival.
Attack the Block isn't political in the way many other movies are. It's not explicitly a movie about war or regimes. But it is absolutely a film about invasion, about control, and about who steps up when the time is now.
In four years and three movies, Finn lost his teeth. Originating as a Stormtrooper, an archetype for anonymous villiany, "FN-2187" rejected his oppressors and became Finn. 2015's The Force Awakens promised an exciting journey for Finn as well as Rey, two young nobodies destined to do great things for a galaxy torn apart. The film's marketing, at least outside China, notably had Finn's Black face illuminated by Luke Skywalker's lightsaber. While Finn did get to swing it around a bit, the posters sold a movie we'd never actually see. By The Rise of Skywalker, Finn was an indescribable comic relief whose past as a Stormtrooper never had fulfilling follow through.
Moses isn't Finn. Moses isn't an ex-soldier for a powerful regime who turns on his oppressors. And while Moses may not have a mind for politics, his physicality embodies the anarchic, antifa boogeymen Republicans fear. He's a Black kid in a hoodie, a most dangerous thing to white racists. And from beginning to end, Moses leads his friends against insurmountable odds to protect his community, even if his community isn't willing to protect him.
Attack the Block is streaming now on Pluto TV.